Travis Swikard

Travis Swikard

Chef & Owner of Callie Restaurant

Ever since I was little, before I even started cooking, it was always about throwing a party, taking care of people and making my family and friends laugh and smile. That’s where the foundation of my passion for this industry comes from. It is very rewarding when you feel so much gratitude after taking care of guests through food and hospitality.

When you become a chef, it is more about mentorship and leadership than anything else. You have the ability to coach young chefs grow in this industry while showing them that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed. I also want them to be prepared and have developed strong skills and technique when they leave us.
"The Square" by Philip Howard, talks about how he thinks about food, and the diners perspective. Also explains how acid or smoke can change and make the food exciting. I go back to this food every season when I’m writing menus.
I learnt early on that relationships with farmers and respecting their hard work allows you use your imagination and get creative as you work together to create a new dish with seasonal ingredients.
"The French Laundry"cookbook was my bible when I was young and brought it everywhere with me.
I met Gavin Kaysen when I was 18 and he told me “don’t try to run before you can walk”. This has always stuck with me.
You have to be driven by your passion and if it is making you miserable, you are putting yourself in the wrong situation.
Leadership and patience are very important, as well as having a great palate. Don’t forget to taste everything and be curious. Never stop; you have to always be observing, smelling, and tasting.
It is very important for a chef to think about his cuisine from the diner’s perspective. How is the guest going to experience the food? I think about the guest experience and how they are going to taste and how it’s going to make them automatically transfer to a place or bring back nostalgia and hopefully come back twice week.
In order to be more efficient in the kitchen, a sharp knife goes hand in hand with a sharp mindset. It gives you confidence when entering your kitchen. Cleanliness and sanitation, not only in the kitchen but on your personal chef, are also necessary.
Unagi Japanese slicer, I use it every day, it’s my saver.
I’m inspired by other menus and tasting foods to make mine better. It takes a humble chef to realize that another chef’s pasta game is stronger than yours.
Sleep and exercise are very important. Find 20 minutes a day to think about something else other than work. Health is huge, so remember to focus on yourself as it’s so easy to forget that part when you’re so passionate.
I love to teach and show my team new techniques. As I am constantly educating myself, I like to pass that along to them. We have weekly kitchen meetings to set goals and push ourselves. Friendly Competition is also an important thing in a NYC kitchen, It allows my team to grow and keeps everyone on their toes.
The one thing I cannot do my job without is the ingredient. I can’t write a menu until I taste the first ingredient of the season. When I walk through the Central Park, and see the tulips and the green grass, it reminds me springs is coming and it inspires me!

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

Send Us Your Nominations

If you know of any extraordinary food, beverage and hospitality professionals who inspire others through their hard work and leadership, nominate them now!


Search industry jobs here

Get Inspired by Industry Leaders

Explore their unique career timelines and advice about what they’ve learned along the way

Pastry & Baking
Wine & Beverage
Office & Admin
Career Changer
International Experience
James Beard Award